Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who made headlines in 2011 when he revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant, had harsh words for Sen. John McCain on Thursday.
Speaking to HuffPost Live, Vargas criticized McCain for stating that LGBT rights should not be a priority in proposed immigration reform. McCain reportedly said such social issues could "derail" reform and asked "Which is more important: LGBT or border security?" at an event sponsored by Politico on Wednesday.
"That's a staggering quote," said Vargas, who is gay and immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at the age of 12.
Vargas told HuffPost Live's Jacob Soboroff that one reason immigration laws are broken today is because they threaten to separate same-sex binational couples, even those who have married legally under state law.
"I can't marry my way into citizenship like straight people can," Vargas said. "I can get married in the state of New York where I live, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government, which hands out visas, won't recognize my marriage."
Following President Barack Obama's inclusive inaugural address, Vargas said it would be wrong to think you can ignore the LGBT community in immigration reform.
"It's not like you can choose," Vargas told HuffPost Live. "My being gay is not a social issue, it's a fact. It's not something to be debated. It's a reality. Sen. McCain is a leader and he's a leader of a border state, which means he understands the complexity of this issue. I really hope that as we have this debate, as we have this conversation, a conversation by the way that is all about defining who an American is, that we really have the tough conversations here."
Vargas moderated a White House Fireside Hangout on Thursday that addressed immigration reform and included White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz.